I had a friend once who set about an hour’s worth of alarms to get him up in the morning. He would eventually make his way out of bed and into the bathroom, where he would lie on the rug while the water in the shower warmed up. When asked why on earth he would wake up so early just to go through that excruciating ordeal every day, he would always say, “It’s a process.”
So is soapmaking. As much as I never want to wait to see a new soap cut or how excited I get about seeing whether my vision for a project has been realized, it really is all about the process. I love watching the lye water slowly pouring down my stick blender into the pot of oils.
For whatever reason, the anticipation of waiting for that oil and water combo to completely combine almost makes me want to hold my breath. I’ll use the immersion blender in short bursts followed by using it to stir manually, watching as oil and water morph into something that looks like vanilla pudding. Once it gets to that point, there’s the next thrill of anticipation because I know I’m about to impose my vision onto that soap batter. It may not turn out the way I expect. But it might. Or it might not. <virtual hand wringing>
Now is the time that my plan gets put into action. I’ve already decided into what proportions the batter will be split. My colors and scents are mixed and ready. I separate my portions and add my colors. Are they the tint I had envisioned? Did I use too much and now there’s no going back? Can I add more? Next come the scents. Are they going to translate well into the soap? Do they accelerate the process? Do I still have enough time to make whatever design I had decided on?
And then…..The Pour. Sometimes this is a seriously complicated step and requires undivided attention which might not even be enough to realize the vision. Warning to my nearest and dearest: For your own safety, do not talk to me or in any way distract me during this time.
Even after all of that, when the soap has been poured and the deed is done, comes the real wait. I have to wait two or three whole days until the process of saponification has been completed and I can unmold and cut the loaf of deliciousness. It’s like waiting for Christmas morning to hurry up and get here after I’ve already heard Santa on the roof!
There are a lot of aspects in life where we’re fearful of the unknown. So much of what we do is completely out of our control and we’re always trying to control it anyway. It adds so much stress to our lives – trying to bring everything we touch under our firm and determined hand. And life just doesn’t work that way. This is one small way in which I’m trying to let go of that need to control and let things happen as they will. Almost all of the time, the design or scent I get is beautiful and works well, even if it’s not what I had envisioned. This happens all the time. I think soap making is a good way for me to practice anticipating life. I may not get what I originally intended, but what I do get is often way better than I could have hoped for.
After all, soap making, like life, is a process.